Angry Orange lodge calls off 'new' parade after it is re-routed
Angry Orangemen have hit out after the Parades Commission refused consent for a parade in east Belfast today to mark the creation of a new lodge banner.
The 45-minute parade by the Ravenhill Volunteers LOL 580 would have taken the lodge's new banner - accompanied by the Pride of The Raven flute band - on a route including part of the Ravenhill Road, where the lodge was formed 125 years ago.
However, the Parades Commission deemed the route "sensitive" and instead proposed a route which did not include the Ravenhill Road.
The lodge described the decision as "an offensive denial of our right to express our religious and cultural identity".
The Orange lodge said because of the Parades Commission ruling, it would not hold its parade today, but would instead dedicate the new banner in Ballymacarrett Orange Hall.
But it warned that it would not be deterred, and "with the support of our community and the wider Orange family (will) 'fly our banner' along the Ravenhill Road on a date before July 1, 2020".
A spokesperson said "this action has caused much anger within the east Belfast community, as the feelings, views and concerns of the Protestant community are continually ignored by the Commission".
"Sadly, the Commission seek to use parading legislation to punish the organisers, rather than be independent and fair adjudicators of public possessions - shame on them." The Orange Order itself commended the lodge for its "common-sense stance" and said it will fully support LOL 580 in the future to ensure the parade takes place.
A Parades Commission spokesman defended the decision.
"The Commission has considered both the level of potential disruption caused by this new parade at the busy Albertbridge and Ravenhill Roads on a Saturday afternoon, and the potential impact on community relations of an additional new parade at a sensitive interface.
"The Commission has determined that this new parade may take a more direct route along Templemore Avenue and Castlereagh Street to its dispersal at Lagan Village Rangers Supporters' Club.
"This amended route will cause less traffic and other disruption on a Saturday afternoon.
"It will mitigate the potential adverse impacts on community relations of an additional new parade at a sensitive east Belfast interface."